Women In Leadership: AVE

In this ‘Women In Leadership’ segment, we profile two executives from AVE by Korman Communities, COO Lea Anne Welsh & Chief Sales Officer Kim Schimenek, to gain their insight and perspective on women in leadership.

 

Name: Lea Anne Welshlea-anne

Organization: AVE by Korman Communities

Current Position: COO, Korman Communities; President, AVE

Hometown: Plymouth Meeting, PA

Years With The Organization: 25

Jobs or Positions Held Prior to Current Role: Lea Anne has held nearly every position in the company: Leasing Assistant, Assistant Manager, Operations Manager, General Manager, Regional Director, Senior Regional Director, Vice President of Operations and currently COO of Korman Communities and President of AVE.

 

  1. AVE is known for community giving. Why should businesses care about the communities they operate in?

 

If you want to be part of anything—a business, a family, a community—engagement is key. It’s important to understand the needs of the communities you do business in. It shows respect, and it’s critical to your business’ success. AVE and Korman Communities want to be viewed as a partner in every municipality we enter. We want to be counted on for giving back whether it’s contributing to a coat drive, participating in fundraisers like 5ks and walks, or hosting a food drive.

 

  1. What’s your favorite charitable or community ‘cause’ and why?

 

I have a few favorite causes: Susan G. Komen, National MS Society and Wings for Success in Chester County, Pennslyvania. I participated in The Susan G. Komen 3-Day in 2013 to support a good friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was halfway through the term of her third child. We walked together, and it was really special to cross the finish line with this mother-of-three and survivor. Every year since 2006, Korman Communities has sponsored a Bike MS team and I always participate. This is an illness that is close to the Korman family and it has impacted all of our families. Wings for Success’ mission is to empower women to pursue employment and economic security by providing free, professional clothing and by offering support and confidence-building. I regularly donate business attire to help women start a career. It’s important to help someone get started, so they can build a life for themselves and provide for their family.

 

  1. What challenges have you faced as a business leader and how have you overcome them?

 

I would say my two greatest challenges would be that the world is always changing, as well as the business climate, and we have to make sure we’re anticipating and meeting our clients’ and partners’ needs, especially with regard to communication and technology—as well as our company’s rapid growth and entering new markets. I have overcome these challenges by surrounding myself with A+ players—quality, hard-working, passionate, and dedicated team members. Also, there is no substitute for hard work. I believe in leading by example. There is nothing I would ask of someone on our teams that I wouldn’t do or haven’t done myself from picking a weed to making coffee to taking out the trash. All of our leaders are hands-on. It’s all strategic thinking and hard work and knowing that if something comes up in the middle of the day, it’s my responsibility as a leader.

 

  1. What am I most proud of?

 

I’m most proud of what we’ve built at AVE and Korman Communities over the last decade. I take real responsibility for providing a quality environment for people to live and to call home while they’re in transition. I’m also really proud of our team members who are engaged and who have become part of the Korman family.

 

  1. What does it take to make a great female leader stand out among others?

 

It takes, first and foremost, courage of your convictions. You must deal with uncomfortable situations head-on. It’s critical that you communicate clearly and positively, but directly.

 

  1. What advice would you provide to women executives on the rise?

 

Nothing will be given to you. You need to work hard for everything. Roll up your sleeves and do the hard work. I continue to do it 25 years in, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Always be honest with yourself and those around you. Also listen. I do believe our company’s growth and success is a direct result of us listening to our clients and residents and meeting those needs. Remember that nothing is going to be perfect. You’re never going to have a perfect environment or situation, you just need to work through it and push through it.

 

Name: Kim Schimenekkim

Organization: AVE by Korman Communities

Current Position: Chief Sales Officer

Hometown: Toms River, NJ

Years With The Organization: 15

Jobs or Positons Held Prior to Current Role: Prior to AVE, Kim served as Executive Director of the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce. Within AVE and Korman Communities, she has held every sales roles including Corporate Sales Manager, Regional Sales Director, Vice President of Sales, Senior Vice President of Sales, and now Chief Sales Officer.

 

  1. AVE is known for community giving. Why should businesses care about the communities they operate in?

 

I believe it is important to be a good corporate citizen and give back to the communities you do business in. When our communities are healthy, our businesses will be as well. Also, there is no substitute for the feeling you get when you do the right thing because you can.

 

  1. What’s your favorite charitable or community ‘cause’ and why?

 

I have two: National MS Society and Move For Hunger. My mother was diagnosed with MS, so that cause is close to my heart. Move For Hunger is a hunger-relief nonprofit that mobilizes the relocation industry to reduce hunger in the communities they do business in. I met the founder Adam Lowy at an industry event in 2013, and I was really inspired by his passion and mission. I introduced the organization to AVE, and now we’ve been partners for three years. We’ve seamlessly integrated Move For Hunger into our daily operations and we regularly collect leftover food when our residents check out for local food banks. We also host a few brand-wide food drives a year.

 

  1. What challenges have you faced as a business leader and how have you overcome them?

I think my greatest challenge was learning how to be a strong manager and leader. I was able to overcome this by having a strong management team behind me. I’ve received overwhelming support from Lea Anne and the Korman family, as well as my family. Lea Anne and I have different personalities and communication styles, and this creates a really strong synergy and chemistry because we help each other grow. We look to the strengths of each other to balance each other out, as well as the strengths of our other leaders and team members, to be the strongest team possible. We also know that we are ever-growing personally and professionally, as well as the business climate, so we engage with a business consultant regularly to help us see things differently and have an open mind.

 

  1. What am I most proud of?

 

I am so proud of many things. First, our team: they are dedicated, passionate and hard-working. I do believe the team members that I work with are really the best at what they do. I am proud of the relationships we’ve built with our clients and partners by delivering on our promises. I am proud of our service culture. We really do go above and beyond to anticipate and meet our clients’ and residents’ needs.

 

  1. What does it take to make a great female leader stand out among others?

 

You have to be able to take smart risks. You also have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable a lot. When you’re uncomfortable, that’s when you grow and learn. Like Lea Anne, I believe in leading by example. I’m still an active seller. Sales evolves, and you need to show your team that you can still do it. Honestly, I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t actively selling our product. My passion is driven from our product, our service, our company and what we stand for.

 

  1. What advice would you provide to women executives on the rise?

 

Stand strong on your beliefs and your talent. Don’t let anyone get in your way. Your attitude is everything. Energy level is contagious. Exude a positive vibe and energy level. People are attracted to that and will follow you. Balance being approachable, confident and tough. You have to believe in what you’re doing. If you live the passion and the product and truly believe it, people see it.

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Meadowlands USA

Meadowlands USA

Meadowlands USA is a North Jersey regional publication that reaches people who live and work in and around the Meadowlands (including the Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Passaic County corridor), as well as visitors to our region. The blog edition is updated regularly and the print edition is released six times a year.

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